TRAVELS WITH GREASE AND PADDLE
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Day 4-The Fried Piper Glides into Prince George, BC
We arrived here, the first major outpost of civilization since Whitehorse 1000 miles ago, sad to say goodbye to the "wilderness" part of the journey, but excited for some upcoming paddling. The grease van (Fried Piper) has been running like an absolute champ since its brief hiccup on the Cassiar and the crew is falling into the rhythm of the journey. Good coffee from the French press, then breakfast down the road a piece. Yesterday it happened to be on a runway at a mining camp where the mineral bounty of BC (copper and melybdenum) is being extracted. It was cold and clear as we set up a breakfast cafe on the frozen landing strip. Puddle crunched underfoot as Peggy Lee purred from the speakers, the random shuffle of 3500 songs once again perfectly timed.
it's a good day for shining your shoes, and its a good day for loosing those blues, everything to gain and nothing to lose...
Breakfast porridge greatly enhanced by the preserves we put up in August from currants and thimbleberries growing in Matt's yard. We hadn't checked in with security, and soon enough a big truck emblazoned with the company logo"Copper Fox" roared up. Turns out it was just the friendly camp cook, a sassy redhead who informed us that she, in fact, was the copper fox.
... so take a deep breath and throw away your pills, a good day from morning to night.
We rolled down the road, the calendar rolling back to autumn as we made southern headway and returned towards the temperate coastal area below the massive, snow covered coast range.
A side trip to the funny little coastal towns of Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska was approved (it's just grease) and was well worth the time. The Switzerland of Canada/Alaska? No bears at the viewing station, but loads of blackies on the road. Back on the Cassiar we visited a roadside mushroom buyer. This is a somewhat shady subculture Matt had infiltrated years ago on a mission partly journalistic. His description was apt, a rough looking family ensemble in a makeshift home at a highway pull-off. We checked out his Matsutakes, a vaunted mushroom bound for aphrodisiac-crazed Asia, and he gave us some Chanterelles. Matt talked me into giving him some our our precious frozen salmon fillets, but as we approached he layed into his wife with a barrage of expletives. We spun on our heels, and returned to the van, salmon in hand. I was able to play off my reluctance as a "bad vibe" rather than greed, and we were on our way.
Smithers, BC, once again proved to be grease paradise. Returned to the Blue Fin Sushi a year later and we also scored big at the Alpenhorn. Maxed out with 100 gallons(!) we went down the road to Hungry Hills and camped for the night, discovering this morning that we had chosen the very spot where a succession of enormous grizzlies had been terrorizing local ranchers for the past eight years.